MSI GeForce GTX 580 Lightning Review

Author: SKYMTL
Date: May 1, 2011
Product Name: MSI GTX 580 Lightning
Part Number: N580GTX-Lightning
Warranty: 3 Years
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A Closer Look at the MSI GTX 580 Lightning

Prepare to cough up some serious money for shipping this card to yourself since it comes in a massive and relatively heavy box. Large it may be but it is also well stocked with protection for its precious cargo as well as a good number of accessories.

Headlining the list of accessories is a pair of very, very long SLI cables which can be used to link up to three GTX 580s together. There is also a pair of 6-pin to 8-pin PCI-E power adaptors and three pin-outs for the Lightning’s voltage read points. Just be aware that these power adaptors just add two additional ground pins to the normal 6-pin connectors and most good PSUs should have cabling that is rated for at least 150W of current.

The GTX 580 Lightning is an impressive looking card but it is also amazingly adaptable to a wide variety of situations since the distinctive Twin Frozr III heatsink doesn’t take up a trio of expansion slots like some of the competition’s designs. All in all, the simple approach to the exterior design of the Lightning belies the technology that hides below its heatsink.

The main focal point of this card will of course be its new high-end Twin Frozr III heatsink. When compared to the previous Twin Frozr II design, this one uses the new Propeller Blade Technology which effectively increases airflow by approximately 40% without having to increase the overall rotational speed of the fans. This additional airflow allows for more PCB components to be actively cooled. Speaking of the fans, the Twin Frozr III is equipped with two 92mm units for pushing cool air down onto the aluminum heatsink array and massive 8mm heatpipes.

Under the shroud is an extensive forged aluminum heatsink that runs almost the entire length of the PCB and touches the memory modules and MOSFETs.

Along the edge of the GTX 580 Lightning’s PCB we see a trio of connector ports. Remember those adaptors we mentioned before? They can be installed here in order to get real-time readings of GPU, memory and PLL voltages via a digital multimeter. To further aid overclockers, MSI has equipped this card with two 8-pin PCI-E power connectors; an addition that can in theory allow for up to 300W to be drawn in addition to the 75/150W from the motherboard’s PCI-E slot.

The Lightning is both longer and wider than the reference GTX 580 but it should still have no issue fitting into the vast majority of ATX cases on the market.

The backplate connectors on the Lightning are a departure from the reference design as MSI added a DisplayPort connector to the usual dual DVIs and single HDMI. All of the connectors are also plated in gold but contrary to popular belief, gold plating doesn’t improve signal transmission on digital connections.

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